The Slaves - Grey Angel (Paradigms)

Sweeping, droning, doomy gothic elements from The Slaves make us linger by candlelight.

Released Aug 18th, 2011 via Paradigms / By Brendan Morgan
The Slaves - Grey Angel (Paradigms) For centuries Christian rule had instilled in its followers a powerful emphasis on penitence derived from guilt, as well as the constant reminder that death and judgement are just around the corner. Based in Portland, Oregon, The Slaves make the kind of music that Polar Bear might if he was brought up hardcore catholic and with an unshakable fear of God. Layered in ambient synths and shrouded in a dark celestial presence, the duo’s debut Grey Angel drives home an old-school gothic affair of chants and drones by candlelight.

From what I’ve said it’s not surprising then that their music is missing some life and energy to it. Their quasi religious meditations become electronic funeral music in which you can almost hear the howling of bored ghosts. Ponderous and moody, each track structure does little else besides drift idly on modal key signatures in a grey and empty sea.

Actually I’m being a bit mean there. Having once lived in the North West of America I’m all too familiar with the Atlantic Ocean, where its silent, cold waters meet the forest covered shores near Portland. Understandably, it would have had an influence on The Slaves prayerful drones; the sense of peace and humility you might feel as you stare out at an ocean’s ancient horizon.

‘You Can Save Me’ sets the scene right from the start. Reeaaalllyyy sssllloooww drawn out chords block out any bit of light seeping in from the cracks, filling the stereo space and building up towering sonic cathedrals that glare down at you. Soaked in reverb, Barbara Kinzle’s voice groans away in a low register. ‘Visions’, two tracks later, employs a cavernously deep and muffled drumbeat with stain glass synths that hints towards Vangelis. At the exact point I grew weary of the ominous tone dragging its way through the album, halfway through ‘Angel’, the last track, everything resolves effortlessly like a kind of divine forgiveness. It’s this superb finish, as well as the sonorous harmonies and atmosphere that rescues Grey Angel from being one long downer.